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Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill
 
 

 
 
A

B I L L

[AS AMENDED COMMITTEE]

TO

Establish an Electoral Commission; to make provision about the registration and finances of political parties; to make provision about donations and expenditure for political purposes; to make provision about election and referendum campaigns and the conduct of referendums; to make provision about election petitions and other legal proceedings in connection with elections; to reduce the qualifying periods set out in sections 1 and 3 of the Representation of the People Act 1985; to make pre-consolidation amendments relating to European Parliamentary Elections; and for connected purposes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-
 

  PART I
  THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION
 
The Electoral Commission
Establishment of the Electoral Commission.     1. - (1) There shall be a body corporate to be known as the Electoral Commission or, in Welsh, Comisiwn Etholiadol (in this Act referred to as "the Commission").
 
      (2) The Commission shall consist of members to be known as Electoral Commissioners.
 
      (3) There shall be not less than five, but not more than nine, Electoral Commissioners.
 
      (4) The Electoral Commissioners shall be appointed by Her Majesty (in accordance with section 3).
 
      (5) Her Majesty shall (in accordance with section 3) appoint one of the Electoral Commissioners to be the chairman of the Commission.
 
      (6) Schedule 1, which makes further provision in relation to the Commission, shall have effect.
 
Speaker's Committee.     2. - (1) There shall be a Committee (to be known as "the Speaker's Committee") to perform the functions conferred on the Committee by this Act.
 
      (2) The Speaker's Committee shall consist of the Speaker of the House of Commons, who shall be the chairman of the Committee, and the following other members, namely-
 
 
    (a) the Member of the House of Commons who is for the time being the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons;
 
    (b) the Secretary of State for the Home Department (whether or not a Member of the House of Commons);
 
    (c) a Member of the House of Commons who is a Minister of the Crown with responsibilities in relation to local government; and
 
    (d) five Members of the House of Commons who are not Ministers of the Crown.
      (3) The member of the Committee mentioned in subsection (2)(c) shall be appointed to membership of the Committee by the Prime Minister.
 
      (4) The members of the Committee mentioned in subsection (2)(d) shall be appointed to membership of the Committee by the Speaker of the House of Commons.
 
      (5) Schedule 2, which makes further provision in relation to the Speaker's Committee, shall have effect.
 
      (6) In this section and that Schedule, references to the Home Affairs Select Committee shall-
 
 
    (a) if the name of that Committee is changed, be taken (subject to paragraph (b)) to be references to the Committee by its new name;
 
    (b) if the functions of that Committee at the passing of this Act with respect to electoral matters (or functions substantially corresponding thereto) become functions of a different committee of the House of Commons, be taken to be references to the committee by whom the functions are for the time being exercisable.
Appointment of Electoral Commissioners and Commission chairman.     3. - (1) The powers of Her Majesty under section 1(4) and (5) shall be exercisable on an Address from the House of Commons.
 
      (2) No motion shall be made for such an Address except-
 
 
    (a) with the agreement of the Speaker of the House of Commons; and
 
    (b) after consultation with the registered leader of each registered party to which two or more Members of the House of Commons then belong.
      (3) Such an Address shall specify the period (not exceeding 10 years) for which each proposed Electoral Commissioner to whom the Address relates is to hold office as such Commissioner or (as the case may be) the period for which the proposed chairman of the Commission is to hold office as such chairman.
 
      (4) A person may not be appointed as an Electoral Commissioner if the person-
 
 
    (a) is a member of a registered party;
 
    (b) is an officer of a registered party or of any accounting unit of such a party;
 
    (c) holds a relevant elective office (within the meaning of Schedule 7); or
 
    (d) has at any time within the last ten years-
 
      (i) been such an officer as is mentioned in paragraph (b), or
 
      (ii) held such an office as is mentioned in paragraph (c), or
 
      (iii) been named as a donor in the register of donations reported under Chapter III or IV of Part IV.
      (5) An Electoral Commissioner, or the chairman of the Commission, may be re-appointed (or further re-appointed).
 
      (6) In subsection (2)(b) the reference to Members of the House of Commons does not include any Member of that House who at the time in question-
 
 
    (a) has not made and subscribed the oath required by the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866 (or the corresponding affirmation); or
 
    (b) is disqualified from sitting and voting in that House.
      (7) In this section "registered party"-
 
 
    (a) includes (in relation to times before the appointed day for the purposes of Part II of this Act) a party registered under the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998; and
 
    (b) in subsection (3)(b) also includes (in relation to times before 1st April 1999) any political party.
 
Commission's general functions
Reports on elections and referendums.     4. - (1) The Commission shall, after-
 
 
    (a) each election to which this section applies, and
 
    (b) each referendum to which Part VII applies,
       prepare and publish (in such manner as the Commission may determine) a report on the administration of the election or referendum.
 
      (2) The elections to which this section applies are the following, namely-
 
 
    (a) a parliamentary general election;
 
    (b) a European Parliamentary general election;
 
    (c) a Scottish Parliamentary general election;
 
    (d) a National Assembly for Wales ordinary election;
 
    (e) a Northern Ireland Assembly general election.
      (3) After a poll held under section 36 of the Government of Wales Act 1998 the Commission shall, if requested to do so by the National Assembly for Wales, at the Assembly's expense prepare and publish (in such manner as the Commission may determine) a report on the administration of the poll.
 
Reviews of electoral and political matters.     5. - (1) The Commission shall keep under review, and from time to time submit reports to the Secretary of State on, the following matters, namely-
 
 
    (a) such matters relating to elections to which this section applies as the Commission may determine from time to time;
 
    (b) such matters relating to referendums to which this section applies as the Commission may so determine;
 
    (c) the redistribution of seats at parliamentary elections;
 
    (d) if any functions are transferred by an order under section 17(1) or 19(1), the matters in relation to which those functions are exercisable;
 
    (e) the registration of political parties and the regulation of their income and expenditure;
 
    (f) political advertising in the broadcast and other electronic media;
 
    (g) the law relating to the matters mentioned in each of paragraphs (a) to (f).
      (2) At the request of the Secretary of State, and within such time as the Secretary of State may specify, the Commission shall-
 
 
    (a) review, and
 
    (b) submit a report to the Secretary of State on,
       such matter or matters (whether or not falling within subsection (1)) as the Secretary of State may specify.
 
      (3) The Commission shall not, however, carry out any review (or make any report) under this section with respect to any of the following matters, namely-
 
 
    (a) the funding of political parties under section 97 of the Scotland Act 1998 or for the purpose of assisting members of the Northern Ireland Assembly connected with such parties to perform their Assembly duties;
 
    (b) the conduct of referendums held in pursuance of any provision made by or under an Act of the Scottish Parliament or the Northern Ireland Assembly or the conduct of any poll under section 36 of the Government of Wales Act 1998;
 
    (c) the law relating to the matters mentioned in each of paragraphs (a) and (b).
      (4) Where any review carried out under this section relates to elections or referendums in Northern Ireland, the Commission shall consult the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland with respect to such elections or referendums.
 
      (5) Each report made by the Commission under this section shall be published by them in such manner as they may determine.
 
      (6) The elections and referendums to which this section applies are-
 
 
    (a) in the case of elections-
 
      (i) the elections mentioned in section 4(2),
 
      (ii) local government elections in England or Wales, and
 
      (iii) local elections in Northern Ireland; and
 
    (b) in the case of referendums, referendums to which Part VII applies and those under Part II of the Local Government Act 2000.
 
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